Congenital syphilis screening could save babies’ lives

Researchers call for pregnant women to be screened

Syphilis causes a half-million stillbirths and newborn deaths around the world, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, the BBC reports—but a new study of 41,000 women, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, showed that testing and antibiotics could reduce that number by more than half. Syphilis, which is transmitted sexually, causes sores, a rash, and damage to the heart, brain and eyes; it can lead to death. Congenital syphilis occurs when the disese is passed from a mother to her child in the womb. More than two million pregnant women have syphilis each year, which can cause complications in more than two-thirds of cases, but the new study showed that screening resulted in a 58 per cent decrease in stillbirths, and a similar reduction in deaths in the first few weeks of a baby’s life; instances of congenital syphilis were also reduced.

BBC News

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